Developing a Business Plan


Please find some links and notes from the 2 Regular Guys Podcast. Business plans are one of those things that everyone talks about needing, but in reality, most people don’t take the time to put one together. They have a PR problem as a useless document that no one needs anymore. Well, Terry and Aaron discuss why you need the guardrail for your business and the key elements that should be included. Learn about developing your “why”, defining the people, creating a marketing plan, goals and milestones, budgets and your operational planning keys. This is a great overview of the process as well as providing some tools you can go reference.

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Developing a Business Plan

Aaron: Intro… List all 5 +1 Segments of a good business plan.

  • Here are 5 great excused. Don’t have the time… Business is growing, no need… I need to be nimble and go with the flow (toilet)… No one will follow it anyway… That’s just for the big guys…
  • The real value of creating a business plan is not in having the finished product in hand; rather, the value lies in the process of researching and thinking about your business in a systematic way. The act of planning helps you to think things through thoroughly, study and research if you are not sure of the facts, and look at your ideas critically. It takes time now but avoids costly, perhaps disastrous, mistakes later.
  • Running a business without a plan would be like driving a car with no front window or map. What you see ahead and the info the map gives you doesn’t drive the actual car, it just gives you the tools to do it as safely as possible.
  • Developing a Business Plan is VERY EASY! Anyone can do it and it requires no special skills. You have an idea, you take that idea and put it in writing and write out the details. It’s about the act of doing it, not about how good or bad it is.
  • BPs have a PR Problem – There is not a name for the two different versions. The true working version is what we talk about, and the formal one that can at times seem like a waste and have little purpose outside of trying to raise venture capital or get a loan. The working version is a guard rail, tool to help you not get blinders from the daily grind, a framework to help you pivot more efficiently when change is needed.

Terry: So as you said in the start it is about getting your “why” down on paper to put it into words you can easily repeat, but how do we do that?

  • Start with your core values. As Kylene and I were working on ours, we found ourselves trying to fit our “why” to our preconceived business ideas. Once we stopped and just began with listing out our core values (without any other prejudices) it really helped refine it for us. It’s about why we do it so people, future employees, customers, vendors, can then connect with you and your business.

Terry: So once you have that Why defined, your core values, the basic understanding of what all this hard work is about, what is next?

  • People are your most valuable asset and can make the biggest impact on your business, both GOOD and BAD. Very hard to do it completely alone so even if you don’t plan to hire employees you are going to have to have some partnerships at some point, either with vendors, consultants or contractors. Think about how to fit them in with you first and then it will be easier to find the right people.
  • My Dad told me when I was in high school and was working for his CPA firm part time that “Business would be fun if it wasn’t for employees and customers..” Meaning some of your biggest challenges can come from your employees and customers, but managing those relationships well can also net your biggest rewards.
  • The reason you want to do your best to define and plan much in advance here in your business plan is getting people on the same page as you is hugely important. You are going to be different than me etc so what you need for help is going to be different and that “help” needs to be defined.
  • This does 2 things for us, it helps us think about what we need to start looking for in a person to help and gives us a job description to use when it is time to hire.
  • Lastly and most importantly is to make sure the role of the people involved with creating the business plan is clearly defined.

Terry: So what’s the next key piece?

  • 1) narrow down your target audience by defining a niche that you can thrive in. Blue Ocean = Segment that is not served that matches up with your passion / why where you can dominate as there really is not a direct competitor. That niche could be a segment of a bigger audience that needs something slightly different. This niche will then be the jumping off point for your business and if you do it really well it will lead you to other spaces.
  • 2) Next, after defining that niche you must then clearly determine who your target customer is in as specific terms as possible. I like to make an actual customer profile of exactly what my ideal customer looks like, does, buys, how they will interact with me and for fun, I even give them a name.
  • 3) Then the next piece is to set S M A R T goals for your marketing plan. SMART = Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Trackable. So for example, your goal should not be “I want more customers”, but instead the goal should be “I want 10 new customers that buy full-color black shirts in quantities less than 12 in the next 3 months.”

Terry: I’m loving all of this planning, but what about the nuts and bolts. Goals and Milestones?

  • The mistake that people make is trying to push forward on sheer will power or self-discipline and then when we wind up on the couch all day doing the Netflix and Chill thing, we flog ourselves for being a terrible business owner. Well you are not, you are actually a human and our nature, our biology is to be driven by our emotional impulses when there is a lack of clear goals. These goals have to be so clear to us that we are tricking our brains into desiring those things over our basic instincts to just chase dopamines
  • A great trick I learned in a book called “Take The Stairs” by Rory Vaden boils down to really getting a crystal clear picture of our goals. Our brains don’t think in words, and black and white, our brains are influenced by all of our senses. So if I were to say THANKSGIVING, we don’t see the word, our brain recalls images of you with your family perhaps, the sounds of football in the background, the smell of your favorite part of the meal and the way you feel after eating way too much.
  • We also have to think this way about our goals as our mind doesn’t really differentiate between what is real and what is not real when you think about things in vivid detail. It why nightmares wake us up. So Rory’s technique for having clear visions and goals he calls VAST V-isual | What specifically do you see? A-uditory | What do you hear in the background? S-mell | What does it smell like when you reach your goal? T-ouch | How does it feel when you reach your goal?
  • Our goals should be the visualization of our “why”. The clear picture of all the places you need to go to achieve your vision of success.
  • Now milestones are slightly different, and some people might call them objectives. These are the specifics of how you are going to get to the steps on the path to success.
  • An example would be – Goal = Having enough business to quit my day job. You have applied the VAST to it, so you see what your environment looks like when you don’t have to go to work, you heard your equipment running, you can smell the inks from your dryer or heat press and you can feel the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Then let’s apply the SMART to it. Specific – You need $3,000 per month in net profits. Measurable – You know your true cost so you can calculate the monthly net profit. Achievable – To get there you only need to add 5 new sublimation customers. Relevant – You have the capacity to add those 5 customers and your niche market has that ability to deliver. Trackable – You need to have those net profits for 3 months straight to turn in your notice.

Terry: Let talk turkey though. What about the money, I know business plans need budgets.

  • Why budgets, why is this important – Not about counting the beans but it is a measuring stick as well as a guide to make it easier to understand what is working and what is not.
  • But you have limited resources? Even more reason to have a good budget because you have to stretch your dollars and make sure you are spending them wisely.
  • AND Budgets are not just to measure the money, its also to measure the other finite resource that we all complain about not having enough of, and that is time. How much of your time are you going to allocate to making sales, social media, email marketing, market research (including watching the cat videos), business development – working ON your business, not IN your business – i.e. participating in 2 Regular Guys each week.
  • Key, is setting the method of tracking this stuff and reviewing. For example with your time budget – You have it nicely laid out, you have a nice 8 hour work day planned, your going to make sure you get 8 to 9 hours of good sleep etc. PERFECT! But what if that doesn’t work out? If you are not measuring it and reviewing it, you will get off track. Trust me I know – I averaged 5 1/2 hours of sleep this week, and that is not in the plan.
  • It’s not about making yourself feel bad for failing, it is about overcoming the unconscious mind that leads us to watch the cat videos, spending too much time on social media etc. so by doing stuff like this it gives us a mechanism to do these things in a concision way. Same for money, should you add that monthly charge for that fun new app, you really don’t need?

Aaron: So those were the basis of my 5 part video series, but there is still one key element missing, and back when I was doing these videos over the summer, I turned to you for the answers. So I’m turning to you again. Tell us about the operational plan side. What needs to be thought of there?

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